Washington’s Chosen Template for the Middle East

A recent speech by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played right into the hands of Israel.  The speech, given to the rather interestingly named Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) very clearly outlined the Trump Administration’s agenda for the Middle East and Israel’s place in America’s plans for the region.

Let’s look at some key excerpts from the speech where Mr. Pompeo compares Israel to Iran, a move that plays right into the hands of Benjamin Netanyahu:

“Let me start with just a basic fact: In the entire Middle East, there is only one consistently pro-American, free-enterprise, democratic nation; it’s the people of the State of Israel. And this administration understands that deeply.

For the previous eight years, we had an administration that showed more respect to the leaders of Iran than to the people of Israel.

President Obama thought he – thought if he made dangerous concessions, removed economic sanctions, and flew a plane full of cash to Tehran, he could somehow hug Iran’s leaders into behaving well and rejoining the community of nations.

But those leaders aren’t from a Disney movie. They’re real. They’re not tragically misunderstood. They are murderers and funders of terrorism who lead chants – today, still – of “Death to America.” Their goals include profiting off the misery of their own people and wiping Israel off the face of the Earth.

By and large, I think the American people understand the threat that Iran poses. It’s why they opposed the deal that the previous administration made by a margin of two to one, and it’s why they sent to our country a very different kind of president in 2016.

I guess that in Washington’s eyes, when you compare Iran to Israel, there is a clear winner.

Now, let’s look at the key sentence to his entire speech, one that very, very clearly illustrates Washington’s views on Israel and Greater Israel (i.e. the Middle East):

Israel is everything we want the entire Middle East to look like going forward.”

Here’s why Israel is so special in the eyes of this Washington:

It is democratic and prosperous. It desires peace. And it is a home to a free press and a thriving free market economy.

In case you wish to watch the entire speech and the question and answer exchange that follows, here it is:

Let’s look at  three of Mr. Pompeo’s reasons for Israel’s “specialness”, its democracy, the freedom of its press, the freedom of its economy and finally its desire for peace.  

1.) Democracy:  According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Israel is considered to be a “flawed democracy as shown here:

While this is substantially better than its neighbours, it is hardly what one would consider a full democracy.

According to Freedom House, Israel had the following issues that impacted Israel’s democratic score in 2017:

High-level corruption investigations are relatively frequent, with senior officials implicated in several scandals and criminal cases in recent years. In August 2017, police confirmed that Prime Minister Netanyahu was a suspect in two investigations into allegations of fraud, breach of trust, and bribery; they pertained to his acceptance of expensive gifts and his apparent attempts to collude with the owner of Yedioth Ahronoth to secure positive news coverage. Two other inquiries that were under way during the year focused on some of the prime minister’s closest associates, with allegations involving bribery in a contract to purchase naval vessels and an exchange of regulatory favors for positive news coverage with the telecommunications and media conglomerate Bezeq. Separately in September, the attorney general announced plans to indict Netanyahu’s wife for aggravated fraud and breach of trust related to inflated spending at the prime minister’s residences.

In recent years the environment for civil society groups has gradually deteriorated. A law that took effect in 2012 requires NGOs to submit financial reports four times a year on support received from foreign government sources. Under a 2016 law, NGOs that receive more than half of their funding from foreign governments must disclose this fact publicly and in any written or oral communications with elected officials. The measure mainly affected groups associated with the political left that oppose Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians; foreign funding for right-leaning groups that support Jewish settlements in the West Bank, for example, more often comes from private sources.

In March 2017 the Knesset approved a law that bars access to the country for any foreign groups that publicly support a boycott of Israel or its West Bank settlements. The measure was criticized by civil society organizations as an obstacle to the activity of many pro-Palestinian and human rights groups.

Other bills that were proposed or considered during 2017 would go further than these existing laws, for example by imposing tighter restrictions on foreign funding and allowing the closure of organizations that support boycotts or seek to hold Israeli forces accountable for human rights abuses in foreign tribunals. One proposed measure would make it easier for plaintiffs to file civil suits against NGOs and activists who support boycotts without having to show proof of damages.” (my bolds)

2.) Freedom of the Press: According to the 2018 Reporters Without Borders annual ranking, Israel scores rather poorly when it comes to press freedom, coming in 87th place out of 180 nations (up from 91st place in 2017) for the following reasons:

Despite the existence of independent media, journalists are subject to “military censorship,” gag orders, and the hostility of members of the government. The Israel Defense Forces often violate the rights of Palestinian and foreign journalists, especially when they are covering demonstrations in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Under Israel’s system of administrative detention, Palestinian journalists can be held indefinitely without trial, without formal charge, and without notification of a lawyer on the grounds that they are inciting violence, cooperating with terrorist organizations, or otherwise posing a threat to Israel’s security.” (my bold)

3.) Economic Freedom: According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, Israel scores in the lower part the “Mostly Free” grouping as shown here:

One of Israel’s biggest barriers to economic freedom is government integrity which falls very close to the “mostly unfree” bracket as shown here:

4.) Desires Peace:  Here is a look at Israel’s desire for peace from its own media:

1.) Haaretz:

 

2.) The Times of Israel:

3.) Jerusalem Post:

In case you have forgotten, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in 2014 killed 2220 Gaza residents, 70 percent of whom were civilians including 500 children and wounded 17,000 residents.  This compares to 73 Israeli deaths with 67 of those being scolders and 6 being civilians.

, Israel seeks peace, does it?  Perhaps this video report showing violence along the border fence between Gaza and Israel from Canada’s CBC from May 2018 better explains Israel’s definition of peace:

As we can see from this posting, the current administration’s geopolitical goal in the Middle East is to remake the region in the image of the State of Israel, its chosen model for the imposition of American-style democracy.  From the information that I have included in this posting, you can see that Washington’s reasons for wanting a Middle East that reflects Israel’s ‘”specialness” may be somewhat flawed, something that is concerning in light of the looming Middle East plan that is being prepared by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s Senior Advisor and unofficial envoy to Israel.

Apparently when it comes to geopolitics, the Middle East and Washington, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

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